When I moved back to Pennsylvania after living in New York City for 14 years, I cut all ties with the people I had become friendly with in NYC.
It was not on purpose.
A few days after I moved into my new condo I received a copy of Gourmet magazine. I love to cook — it was a perfect magazine for me - but I had not subscribed to it. It turned out my New York friends and upstairs neighbors, John and Melanie, had ordered it as a housewarming gift.
To my great surprise, I also received a few letters from Mike – a man I knew only slightly — and a book written by Mike’s father.
I sent thank you notes to all of them but I found myself not responding once they wrote back. The eye pain and the facial pain were all consuming. Any writing or reading further ratcheted up the pain. I made the decision, looking only at the very short term outcome, that it was too painful for me to write back.
As a result, of course, they also stopped writing.
Pain made many of my decisions, usually related to agreeing to treatments or procedures logic told me not to go forward with. The pain screamed at me, shutting out any other voices, even the one of common sense. It yelled, “Do it. Do it. Maybe it will stop me.”
It also yelled, “Don’t write the letters. Don’t make the pain worse by putting pen to paper.”
So I didn’t.
As a result, I lost a good friendship and one that had the potential to become one.
How many times, how many things and how many people have we lost in an effort to tamper down the pain, or at least not increase it?
Conversely, doing things and going places, saying “Yes” when we know we should say “No” is equally bad.
I miss John and Melanie. I regret I let Mike go. In retrospect I realize it would have been only a few extra minutes of increased pain to keep these people in my life.
It always comes down to tradeoffs. What is more important and what is the cost we are willing to pay?
I let the pain dictate to me. I so wish I had screamed back, “I need these friendships. I want them to continue. Quiet down so I can think. So I can make a choice; friendship or pain.”
I may still have picked not increasing the pain instead of working to keep the friends, but at least it would have been a considered decision, one based on thought instead of only feeling.
Pain causes so much loss and disruption in our lives.
It is a struggle to remember that we control it. We do not have to let it control us.
If we can keep that idea in mind the choices we make can and will be conscious and considered. And the results much more acceptable
Carol Jay Levy has lived with trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic facial pain disorder, for over 30 years. She is the author of “A Pained Life, A Chronic Pain Journey.” Carol was accredited to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, where she helped get chronic pain recognized as a disease.
The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that! It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.